Artist Randy Hill Creates Treasure From Trash
By Becki Walker
from Salem Monthly, Section Art
Posted on Sun Aug 31, 2008
It doesn't take a lot to make some people happy.
Take Randy Hill, for instance: some of his favorite purchases include a case of tiny, anatomically correct skeletons from Walgreens; a sequined mariachi sombrero; and a medal from the Odd Fellows Society. Most people might consider his cluttered studio a monument to the pack rat, but rather than fill a trash can or recycling bin, Randy creates assemblage art pieces that fascinate and delight.
Randy's own fascination and delight with found objects laid down roots while he was still a boy.
A native Texan, he fondly remembers taking trips to the dump with his father and brother and searching for "choice castoffs." After moving to Salem four and a half years ago, he started scouring our thrift shops and dollar stores searching for the next items to add to the clutter.
"People probably think I'm crazy," he says, "but this is more fun than painting."
He would know. Randy has been painting for a number of years, and has spent the last 30 of those years working professionally as a graphic designer. He started on "found" art when his son-in-law nearly threw away a Silvertone guitar with a broken neck. He painted the guitar and adorned it with beads and text. Two cherubs were tinted copper and green patina, and attached to the guitar's body. A photo of Hank Williams was placed in the center of the instrument, and "I Saw the Light," a tribute to Hank himself was born.
That was the first assemblage piece, which took a few years to complete. Since then, Randy's work has taken on other dimensions. Common themes in his art include science fiction, music, and Texan culture. Some of his recent projects include works like "The Brotherhood," a tribute to a friend with a relative in the Odd Fellows society. This piece includes plastic skulls, and a metal "eye of God." A spinning hourglass mounted inside the work pays homage to the idea that you can only look at the eye of God for so long before you go crazy.
Other pieces speak more to Randy's love of science fiction and entertainment shows such as "The Twilight Zone." There's "The Baby Ate Your Dingo," made from golf tees, the guts of an old computer, and parts of a coffee percolator, "Rocket Ship #7" is a structure that incorporates a house number, plumbing joints, and a jelly bag holder.
He follows his instincts when junk-hunting: "If I see something and think, `These are great, they're so tacky,' I know that if I pass it up, I'm going to be sorry later."
The "trash" that makes these treasures comes from a variety of places -- when touring as a musician he traveled to locales such as Belfast, London, and Rotterdam, accumulating as he went. It would be wrong to confuse these items with souvenirs. Randy feels that each object has its own story to tell, and that his assemblages can "somehow, through all of these unique circumstances, become something else, something people like to look at."
Randy's art is more than "something people like to look at." Though he says his style is still developing, there is a clear link between his recent work and his desire to create movie props as a child: his works mix a hint of the surreal with just enough kitsch to keep things humorous.
A piece may be completed in as little as a day or as long as a year, but each is a monument to the overlooked.
Randy may live in Salem, but his art can be found deep in the heart of Texas, floating in outer space, or piloting a flying saucer. One thing's for sure, though: wherever he is, chances are you'll find him making worth something taking a second glance at.
Randy Hill's art may be viewed at www.artfoundango.com